More than two years after an outside contractor was hired to run one of the city's most venerable schools, D.C. officials said Tuesday that Dunbar High remains plagued by a litany of troubles: Nearly half the senior class is not on track to graduate, more than 100 students are taking courses they've already passed and the campus is growing increasingly unsafe.
Interim Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson made those findings and others public to justify her decision last week to oust Friends of Bedford, the New York-based contractor that former chancellor Michelle A. Rhee retained to turn around the 822-student school.
"In general, the building seems to be in turmoil at all times," Henderson wrote in a termination letter made public this week. "Well after the school day begins, many students are wandering around the building, strolling to class with absolutely no sense of urgency."
While problems at Dunbar have festered for months, the situation has turned into an early test of how Henderson and Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray (D) will respond to school reform efforts that appear to go awry. On Tuesday, after a week of news describing disorder and disarray at the school several months into the academic year, Gray and Henderson joined Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) in an attempt to turn the page. They gathered at the school on New Jersey Avenue NW to unveil the design for a long-planned $100 million new Dunbar to open in fall 2013.